(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
A year ago, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks did battle in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was supposed to be a step forward for both groups. Unfortunately, it was followed up with a season of mediocrity (and occasional zaniness) for each group, and tonight’s final home game at the Scotiabank Saddledome is as meaningless for the two clubs as last spring’s battles were meaningful.
As for tonight? It’s 40 guys on the ice who are just trying not to get injured before golf season opens up on Sunday.
The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
For a view from the other side, check out the preview from our frenemies at Canucks Army!
Projected lines from Daily Faceoff:
Joni Ortio makes his 19th (and final) start of the season. He’s 6-9-5 with a 2.74 goals against average and .912 even-strength save percentage. The Flames are without Karri Ramo, Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid and Lance Bouma. They’ll also be without Michael Frolik, at least for tonight, so welcome back to the NHL, Drew Shore.
Shore gets the plum job of playing with Mikael Backlund, which has been a recipe for many, many points recently. Also keep an eye on Backlund – who looooves playing the Canucks – and that top line, who will be motivated playing against the Canucks (particularly that Hunter Shinkaruk kid).
Beware: Bob Hartley said this morning that he’ll be shuffling lines. Don’t get too attached to any pairings or groups. We’ll try to keep on top of the shuffling on Twitter and post-game to give you some idea of how the random lines did.
Lines from yesterday’s 5-2 loss in Edmonton:
As Jacob Markstrom started (and lost) up in Edmonton last night, likely Ryan Miller gets the start tonight. He’s 17-23-9 with a 2.61 goals against average and .926 even-strength save percentage. He’s been pretty good, but Vancouver has struggled offensively.
You want storylines? Well, Jake Virtanen comes back to Calgary after a full season in the NHL (he played for the Hitmen) and it’s Markus Granlund’s return to town after being traded to Vancouver before the trade deadline. In addition, these are two teams that just don’t like each other very much. That could add a bit of flavour to what’s otherwise just a meaningless 81st game of the season for both teams.
WHEN LAST WE MET
This is the fifth and final game between these two teams this season. Calgary has won three of four meetings so far this season. Vancouver beat Calgary in October (5-1), but the Flames have won their subsequent 3-2 (in overtime), 4-1 and 5-2.
This is the 264th meeting between these two teams in the regular season. The Flames have a 128-89-46 record against Vancouver all-time.
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
The only “real” implications here are draft implications.
HOME ICE HERO
Our pals at ATB have spent the 2015-16 season honouring Alberta’s
home-ice heroes. The contest is closed for this season, but head on over
to ATB’s site (or their YouTube channel) and check out the profiles of five well-deserving individuals that make a big difference in their lucky hockey communities!
SUM IT UP
It’s Calgary versus Vancouver, so despite all pronouncements of how pointless this game is beforehand, you know it’ll be fairly fun to watch because of the animosity of the two teams involved.